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September 7, 2012 permalink
When Progressive-Conservative MPP Elizabeth Witmer resigned her seat in the Ontario legislature, it created the possibility that the Liberals could upgrade their one seat minority to a one seat majority. Yesterday Catherine Fife of the NDP won the seat in a byelection. The new party alignment is Liberals 53 seats, Progressive Conservatives 36 and New Democrats 18. The Liberals will not become the majority party, and there is still a chance of enacting bill 110 to provide for ombudsman oversight of children's aid societies.
Fife win a ‘positive change’
WATERLOO — Catherine Fife repainted the formerly blue Tory stronghold — belonging to Elizabeth Witmer for 22 years — a New Democratic shade of orange.
Supporters packed St. George Hall in Waterloo on Thursday night as they celebrated Fife’s victory with party leader Andrea Horwath.
“Today families in Kitchener-Waterloo have handed me a big responsibility,” Fife said.
“Over nine years I’ve learned about the kind of leadership they expect. They expect listening, hard work, and real results, I’m excited to take that experience to Queen’s Park,” said Fife. “I am so proud of the people that supported me, and I am grateful to the voters that have put their trust in me.
“Tonight’s results were a team effort. Voters across Kitchener-Waterloo who have never voted NDP in the past cast their ballots for positive change.”
The night before the election, Fife was knocking on doors until 9 p.m. in the suburbs of west Waterloo — an area she desperately needed to take her over the top.
“We worked right to the bitter end,” said Fife, who also campaigned on election day with Horwath, a frequent visitor to the riding in the last few weeks.
The byelection campaign was a gruelling one, with long days and endless media scrutiny on a riding that had the ability to change the fate of the Dalton McGuinty minority government.
“The scrutiny was incredible,” Fife said. “It was a high-pressured byelection, but we stayed above the fray.”
A poll conducted earlier this week in the riding suggested a NDP victory with Fife at 42 per cent, while the Liberals’ Eric Davis and the Conservatives’ Tracey Weiler were trailing, both at 26 per cent of the vote.
The momentum for a possible NDP victory brought many out to support Fife. About 700 volunteers were polling voters on Thursday.
This was the second provincial campaign for Fife. She finished third in 2007 with the best results the NDP has ever shown in the riding.
Fife’s strength has traditionally seen support in central and campus areas, whereas the suburbs were a challenge.
Fife said the dynamics of this campaign were the opposite of her previous campaign.
“The NDP is in a different place. We stayed focused on education and health care and people were listening,” she said. “People know me. They know how committed I am.”
Fife has been a trustee with the Waterloo Region District School Board for nine years and sat as chair of the board until taking a leave of absence to run for the NDP.
She’s the mother of two children, Claire, 11, and Aiden, 13, and her husband Dale is a history and law teacher at Waterloo Oxford Secondary School.
Fife served as the president of the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association and vice-president of the Canadian School Boards Association.
She said her work on the school board prepared her for understanding how government works and advocating on behalf of the community.
She is a moderate within the NDP party, who “understands that in order to further our social policy goals, we need to have a strong economy.”
Source: Metroland / Waterloo Record